A few days ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, British Muslims have announced a plan to launch a special TV channel which will join a growing number of specialized broadcasting channels targeting the growing Muslim minority.
“In some ways British Muslim TV couldn’t come at a better time,” Abdul-Rehman Malik, who is programs director at Radical Middle Way, told Al Arabiya News on Friday, June 6, referring to an increasing spotlight on British Muslims and Islam.
“The handwringing over what it means to be “British” and the growing unease about Britain’s place in Europe and the World, stands in sharp contrast to the reality of most British Muslims who are comfortably cosmopolitan, multilingual, multicultural and at home in Britain and the world.”
Planned to hit the airwaves later this month, the channel cast has been working to create content that reflects the different voices of the Muslim community in the UK and to embody the tag line “Confidently Muslim, Comfortably British”.
The channel has already generated interest through a social media campaign on both Facebook and Twitter.
Along with social media advertisement, the channel has been undergoing planning since the start of 2014, establishing substantial “pre-sold advertising” to make the concept into a reality.
The channel would have a line-up of programs that include entertainment and educational formats such as “Teenie Vision” for younger audiences, lifestyle shows like “Halal Kitchen” and political/current affairs based programs.
Lauren Booth, a British journalist and sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, will be hosting her own show called “Talking Booth,” a one-to-one interview show featuring high profile guests.
The diverse programs would cope with a rising, diverse Muslim community which practices UK’s fastest growing religion.
“British Muslim communities are diverse, complex and messy. We deserve quality media – television, print, radio, online – that is similarly diverse,” Malik said.
“We have plenty of amateurs in the media-sphere, but quality is lacking. To really be a game changer, BMTV has to present quality programming with strong editorial direction and vision.
“It has to be willing to take risks. It can’t be all things to all people, but it can present programming that speak to the diverse communities it claims to service,” he added.
Though British Muslim TV is not the first Islamic channel in the UK, it is expected to gain trust of Muslims who have been asking for high-quality programming.
“We’re really passionate about bringing content that’s relative to the generations of today, so we made sure that our programming isn’t solely made up from presenters or content from overseas,” Wasim Akhtar, Director of Marketing and Communications, told Al Arabiya on Friday, June 6.
“As a result, we feel we will provide both Muslim and non-Muslim communities with news, views and insights into how British Muslims live today.”
Akhtar added that while Islam Channel is watched by approximately 60 per cent of Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims, it has regularly faced criticisms regarding its overemphasis on fundraising programs.
British Muslim TV aims to be different from the other Muslim based channels in the UK by being: “inclusive of all different views and open to all different types of Muslims,” Akhtar said.
“So the channel isn’t just about issues of faith, it’s about practical Muslim life here in Britain.”
Channels for Muslim communities in the UK are not new and have been broadcasting in the UK since 2004.
Islam Channel is one of this country’s most prominent and popular free-to-air, English language Muslim satellite channels.
Other channels like Noor TV, Peace TV and Iqra TV have a South Asian focus, with some of the content broadcast in Urdu or Bangladeshi. More recently, Shiite focused channels have also emerged like Hidayet TV and Ahlebait TV.